The Ava (Burmese) Kingdom occupied three Hindu kingdoms, Ahom, Cachar (they now form part of Assam) and Manipur (ImphalValley) in the neighbourhood of Nagaland/Nagalim, with mass slaughter and slave taking. Naga villages sheltered thousands of Manipuris for over five years.
"…The valley of Munnipore occupies nearly the centre. It is called by the Munniporees, 'Meithei-leipak', Maj. W. McCulloch. The word "leipak" is Meithei word for "land". The term " Meithei" also written as "Meitei" is synonymous with "Manipuri" (Prof. N. Tombi Singh: Manipur- A Study; Rajesh Printing Press, New Delhi 1972). Thus, "Meithei-leipak" literally means, " Manipuri-land". The pre-British Manipur Kingdom was located at Kangla in the "Umphal Valley" now better known as "Manipur valley".
Maj. W. McCulloch Political Agent of Munnipore: Accounts of Munnipore Valley… (Calcutta, Bengal Printing Company Ltd., 1859),p.1.
With abundant supply of arms from the British, Manipuris began to intrude into Nagalim to loot and destroy villages .
British India began direct invasion of Nagalim.
Introduction of W. McCulloch's Policy Planting Kuki Settlements on "exposed frontiers", arming Kuki nomads with guns to destroy Naga villages.
1845-80 - Invasion of Nagalim
British India, with abundant manpower supply from their Hindu allies, repeatedly invaded villages in Nagalim.
British took control of a substantial number of Naga villages covering approximately a third of Nagalim and attached them to Assam and Manipur. However, British Nagaland remained under the Foreign Department of Colonial India throughout the British rule. Neither the Provincial Assembly of Assam nor Darbar of the Indian Princely State of Manipur had authority over Nagaland. The Traditional Naga Village Council continued as the only legitimate/representative authority throughout Nagaland. This was in recognition of the fundamental differences underlying the social and cultural practices between Hindu and Naga societies, differences being the Naga of communal egalitarian social structure in sharp contrast to the stratified caste system of Hindu society.
British Political Agent replaced the Manipuri King as the President of Manipur Darbar, marking the beginning of direct control of Manipur by Britain. However, the Naga-areas in Manipur, referred to as "tribal areas", remained excluded from the control of the Darbar. "Manipur State, of course, has its own tribal areas excluded from the administration of the Darbar, and most of these tribes would prefer not to come under the direct control of the Darbar as yet", reported F.C. Bourne, Governor of Assam, 6th June 1946.
The Indian Home Rule Act, 1919, classified the Naga areas in Assam as "Backward Areas" of Naga Hills district and remained outside the purview of the Assam Provincial Assembly set up under the said Act.
10 January 1929, the Naga Club ,in a memorandum told the British Indian Statutory Commission, called "The Simon Commission", that the Nagas would not join India when the British departed, they should be left to live on their own, independent of others, as they were before the colonization.
The Government of India Act 1935 declared the Naga Hills ("Backward Areas") as an "Excluded Area", meaning outside the purview of AssamProvince. The Act divided the British colony in the sub-continent into "British India" and "British Burma".
The other Naga areas on which India has subsequently laid claim including Tuesang and Mon areas (made part of Nagaland State in 1964) and those in the 'State of Arunachal' or 'Arunachal Pradesh' were still free from external rule at the time of Britain's departure from South Asia. They were recognized as such by His Majesty's Government. British forces reached some of these lands as early as the 1910s. However, there was no regular contact between them until the middle of 1930s. Britain's Foreign Department came to refer to these lands (this part of Nagalim and the rest of present Arunachal state) commonly as the "North East Frontier Tracts".
To work out terms of relationship once the British withdraw: The first all Naga political organisation, the Naga National Council (NNC), was set up. As part of the arrangement for the transfer of power,Britain brought the Dominion Governmentof India and the Naga National Council [NNC] to work out their terms of relationship once the British withdraw.
On 20 February 1947 NNC submitted a proposal for Interim Government in Nagalim with India as the Guardian Power for ten years. On 26 th June 1947, the Interim Government of India and the NNC reached The Nine Points Agreement. The Agreement envisaged a Protected State in Nagalim under NNC with India as the Guardian Power for ten years at the end of which NNC will be asked to renew or to make a new agreement.
Gandhiji declared…Nagas had every right to be independent of India: The Indian Constituent Assembly, through a process of mental acrobatics, arrived at the conclusion, that the Nine Points Agreement was merely 'district autonomy within the Indian Constitution' and began preparations to occupy Nagalim by force. When this was brought to Gandhiji's attentionon 19 July 1947, Gandhiji declared that the Nagas had every right to be independent of India if they choose to do so. Further, he declared that he would oppose with his life if India decides to take Nagalim by force.
Nagalim declared Independent: NCC announced its decision to declare Nagalim "independent" on 14 August 1947and communicated it to UNO, Britain, the Interim Government of India, and the Commonwealth Relations Office. As the newly independent India adopted a belligerent attitude toward the declaration of independence by the Nagas, Britain decided to adopt a policy of "wait and see".
Indian police in Manipur made summery arrest and detention of many Nagas including Daiho Mao, a prominent elder, who were peacefully blockading an entry point to Nagaland from India. The police repression was justified on false claims of facing 'incitement by Communist agitators, or the danger of Burmese Communist infiltrating Assam,' and India used the occasion to build up its military on the Assam-Nagaland border to invade Nagalim. "…With regard to Calcutta Weekly Report No.34…about the unrest among the Nagas and the danger of Burmese Communist infiltrating Assam, Sir Akbar Hydari arrived in Delhi recently and press for release of new military equipment to forces in the Assam area".
May 16, 1951 Plebiscite: Condemning NNC as "the voice of the misguided", India imprisoned many more Naga elders without trial. Undeterred, Nagas continued their peaceful protest and asked India to ascertain the decision of the majority of the people in a plebiscite. India rejected it. NNC notified India; they decided to conduct the plebiscite on 16 May 1951 to clear any possible doubt. The result of the plebiscite, as admitted by B.N. Mullik, the then Chief of the Indian Intelligence set up, was 99.9% for Naga independence and none for joining India.
India refused to respect the out come of the Plebiscite. Instead, India sought to destroy by force the material and spiritual basis of the Naga peoples independence and imposed military rule over Nagalim from 1955. NNC set up the Federal Government of Nagaland in March 1956 with a military wing to drive out the Indian forces. In the next three months Naga army drove out the Indian forces from Nagalim barring a few points. India brought in more than a hundred thousand troops in re-enforcement and occupied Nagalim. The occupation army rounded up ten of thousands of Nagas in 59 concentration camps where many perished from water contamination and lack of food.
1952 - Boycotted Indian Elections
In 1952 with heavy military presence, the first Indian general election was imposed on the Nagas. In spite of the military threat, Nagas successfully boycotted the election.
Indian Prime minister, Nehru brought the Burmese Prime minister, U Nu to Kohima and began the process of dividing Nagalim between the two countries. Human right abuses committed by Indian armed forces became rampant as they "searched the villages" for NNC elders who were by then branded "secessionists".
Nagas organized to drive oust Indian forces: NNC set up the Federal Government of Nagaland on 22 March with a military wing. India placed "Naga Hills district in Assam" under the Military rule on 2 April. Within fours of its formation, Naga Army drove out Indian forces from Nagalim barring a few points. India brought in large re-enforcement. Before the year end, there was "nearly one security troop for every adult male Naga in the Naga Hills", says B.N. Mullik.
Indian Government faced severe criticism in the Parliament (Lok Sabha) for its failure to honour the Nine Points Agreement of 1947 and for the war in the Naga Hills. In response, Pandit Nehru, the Prime Minister said, "I do not accept his statement that the agreement has not been honoured. That agreement came up before the Constituent Assembly, or rather before the Special Committee of the Constituent Assembly. All the six Schedules attached to the Constitution were largely drawn up with that agreement in view…the whole object was to give autonomy to their areas and help them to live according to their own ways. If it is felt that the six Schedules do not go far enough, it is open to Parliament to amend them whenever it likes", during debate on the Naga Hills situation in the Lok Sabha, 23 August, 1956.
Indian Parliament passes the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 – a re-incarnation of the much dreaded Armed Force Special Powers Ordinance 1942 of the British era. The Act provides the Indian Armed forces legal immunity to "shoot to Kill" on mere suspicion, to enter, search, arrest and detain without. Having destroyed most of the Naga villages and killed close to one hundred thousand Nagas, and rounded up thousands in 59 concentration camps built across the Naga Hills, India announced "amnesty" and asked NNC to accept "administrative autonomy". Though reeling from the impact of massive destruction of life and means of subsistence, Nagas rejected it.
In an attempt to divide Nagas, India conferred statehood (the existing State of Nagaland) on a small portion of Nagaland under its Foreign Ministry.
The Indian State admitted to the aerial bombing of suspected guerrilla locations, of "Strategic hamletting" and "groupings" in which villages are forcibly relocated.
Cease-fire and political negotiation: At the intervention of Bertrand Russell and Rev. Michael Scott [an old friend of Gandhiji] in 1964 India agreed to a cease-fire for peace talks. After several rounds of unproductive talks in 1966, Mr. R. Suissa, a member of the Tatar Hoho (member of Parliament of the Naga Nation), forwarded a proposal to the NCC which he had thoroughly discussed with the Prime Minister of India Mrs. Indira Gandhi. In the succeeding round of talk of Mrs. Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister, conveyed her willingness to negotiate a Bhutan type status for Nagalim as a separate entity. But NNC rejected the offer and the talks broke off without result in 1967.
Some leaders left the Federal Government of Nagaland and formed the "Revolution Military Government" with Indian support. It got dissolved in less than two years time and their members became Indian employees.
In NEFA, India launched an all out attempt to inculcate Indian nationalism by converting the people to Hinduism. The Hindu organization in charge of the programme was given 99 years logging lease of the timber rich NEFA forests to generate fund for the work. In addition to the heavy deployment of India army in the villages, Hindus from central India were brought in as teachers and administrators and introduced Hinduism in the school as a basic subject. However, teaching of Christianity was strictly prohibited in NEFA as "foreign religion". This included prohibition of Christian parents narrating Bible stories to their children or observing Christian burial. Access to education facilities was denied to Christian children and their elders were discriminated in employment. State apparatus was used freely to destroy Christian institutions and to persecute Christians. To fully legalize this practice a 'Private Bill" entitled "freedom of religion" was moved in the Indian Parliament in 1978. But the Indian middle class saw it, as a threat to the "secular" character of the Indian State and the bill was thrown out. It also led to slackening of the "program to indigenise Hinduism in NEFA".
The international boundary between India and Burma was officially Drawn. In doing so they divided the Naga people between two nations. In some cases the border runs through villages and houses. NNC and its government was declared as "Unlawful". The affairs of Nagaland State" was transferred from the Ministry of External Affairs to the Ministry of Home Affairs in an effort to project the Naga struggle for political rights as a "law and order problem".
India imposed the Shillong Accord on some of the Federal Government leaders. The Accord states that the Nagas leaders accept the Indian Constitution on their volition, will hand over their arms, and will formulate Naga problem for discussion in future. A people suffering from war exhaustion greeted the Shillong Accord with silent contempt. The National Assembly convened by the General Secretary of NNC, Th. Muivah 15-17 August 1976 at Suphao (in Eastern Naga Hills-Burma) rejected it as "the work of traitors". However, NNC President, A.Z. Phizo and several other NNC elders, kept silent. This enabled the opportunist elements to join the surrendered leaders to organize, in collaboration with India, a vigilante force, in various names, like NNC, or Federal Army, or Peoples Militia of Nagaland,…The ground was left wide open for a bloody showdown between these forces and the National Resistance Forces.
On 30 August, a section of the Naga Army staged a coup at the instance of the Accord leaders. All leaders of the NNC who did not support the Shillong Accord were taken captive by the military. All the office of the NNC and Federal Government of Nagaland were usurped by the pro – Shillong Accord military regime.
After a number of fierce encounters with the traitors, the national resistance forces took back the offices of the NNC and Federal Government. Khaplang, who took over in the coup, the office of the President of the Federal Government of Nagaland, denounced the military regime and the Shillong Accord and joined the national resistance forces leading to the merger of Eastern Nagaland (in Burma) and Western Nagaland (in India) at Nokpa village on the 30th January.
On 9th September the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights was formed in response to the long felt need of the Naga people to "organize opposition" to the gross violations of human rights perpetuated by the Indian State.
Raising a new National Resistance Organization. After the failure of the leadership of the NNC to carry on the Naga peoples struggle for self-determination, the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) was formed. Under the leadership of Isak Chishi Swu, Khaplang and Th.Muivah, respectively as Chairman, Vice Chairman and General Secretary of the NSCN. They formed a new Government, the Government of the Peoples Republic of Nagalim, GPRN.
Division in NSCN: With NSCN at the leadership, National Movement once again regained respect and support of the people. But NSCN Vice President, SS. Khaplang came in for grave charges relating to his financial handling and moral behaviour. As news of his staying away from NSCN Council meetings became known, Choumai, Commander of the Kachin Army, encouraged Khaplang to take over NSCN. With large quantity of arms from India supplied through Choumai, Khaplang attacked the NSCN Council Headquarters on 30 April and killed more than sixty on the spot. He appointed himself the Chairman of NSCN. In the weeks that followed, Khaplang's followers in coordination with the Indian Army and the Burmese Army killed more than one hundred members of the national movement.
Following this abortive coup, Khaplang's group has been armed, financed and sheltered by the Indian agents and the Nagaland State Government under its Chief Minister, S.C.Jamir.
Meeting between the Naga representatives Isak Chishi Swu and Th. Muivah and the Prime Minister of India, Narasimha Rao at Paris in June. Preliminary talks on a prospective peace process. India's Prime Minister's met again with Isak Chishi Swu and Th. Muivah in September in New York, USA.
1997 - Peace-Talk
Isak and Muivah led NSCN (NSCN-IM) quickly recovered from the shock. From year 1990, India's forces, both military and political, suffered heavy losses. It helped India's leaders to realize that military cannot solve the problem. India began to consider non-military options and in 1995 invited NSCN to begin political negotiation at the highest without conditions at a mutually agreed third country. After two years of behind the scene preparations, they announced on 25 July 1997 their decision to enter into a "cease-fire agreement" from 1st August 1997 to pave way for political negotiations.
Meeting between Deve Gowda, Prime minister of India and Isak Chishi Swu and Th. Muivah at Zurich in February. Continuing the preliminary talks peace process. Talks included propostion on a cease fire. March 4, prime Minister of India announced in the Parliament, his Government's decision to enter into peace negotiation with the NSCN.
The Indian Government and the NSCN on July 25 announced the Cease-fire to begin "UNCONDITIONAL PEACE-TALKS" stating: "That there be a total suspension of armed conflict between the two sides for three months, beginning on 1 August 1997."
The Prime minister of India appoints the former governor of Mizomram Mr. Swaraj Khaushal as interlocutor for the talks. India's team led by Prime Minister Vajpajee met the top leaders of the NSCN, Isak Swu, Khudao Yanthan and Th. Muivah in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The negotiations encountered inumerable difficulties. However, both sides have showed increasing confidence in the peace-process. In a joint communiqué with the NSCN (Amsterdam, 11 July 2002), India recognized the unique history and situation of the Nagas. Further more, the Government of India renewed the invitation of the Prime Minister to the leaders of the NSCN to come to India to expedite the peace dialogue.
To strengthen the peace-process the Nagas held three major consultation meetings. The first national consultation lasting three weeks was held in Dimapur, Nagalim in 1999. People from all walks of life took part in this consultation on the invitation of the NSCN. Two more consutations were held in Bangkok Thailand in 2002.The national consultations expressed full confidence in the NSCN leading the Naga nation in the peace-talks.
Alongside the national consultations, Nagas have also launched National Reconciliation Process for healing within the society. They have also initiated dialogue with members of other communities in their neighbourhood and the general public in India.
Till the arrival of Independent India, Burmese leaders did not show interest in Nagalim. However, in 1953, Indian Prime Minister, Nehru brought Burmese Prime Minister, U Nu to Kohima, a Naga centre, and began the process of dividing Nagalim between the two.
In recent times, the Military Regime in Burma has been active in several parts of Eastern Nagalim pillaging the villages, laying land mines in and around the village, setting up military bases and to ban Christianity and churches, forcibly convert young Nagas to Buddhism.
Cease-Fire & Peace-Talks
The Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland entered a cease-fire agreement on 1st August 1997 to begin political negotiations at the highest level without conditions at a mutually agreed third country. The talks encountered innumerable difficulties. However, both sides have showed increasing confidence in the peace-process. In a joint communiqué with the NSCN (Amsterdam, 11 July 2002), India recognized the unique history and situation of the Nagas. Further more, the Government of India renewed the invitation of the Prime Minister to the leaders of the NSCN to come to India to expedite the peace dialogue.